Denali is unique among the national parks of America. No park in the lower 48 states offers so complete an ecosystem unaltered by man. Grizzlys, moose, caribou, wolves, dall sheep, and numerous other animals find a home here in a vast parkland, as large as the entire state of Massachusetts. There may be other places in Alaska where the scenery is just as spectacular and where there are as many or more animals, but only in Denali does the average visitor have easy access to true wilderness. Denali is 237 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks, via Alaska Hwy. 3, or the Alaska Railroad.
The crowning jewel of Denali National Park and Preserve is Mount McKinley, named for U.S. Senator William McKinley, who later became president of the United States. At 20,320 feet, Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America. If measured from it’s base, about 2,000 feet at Wonder Lake, McKinley has a vertical relief even greater than that of Mount Everest. At this far northern latitude it also boasts some of the worst weather in the world. Temperatures at the summit are severe even in July, although the lowlands can be very pleasant during the long daylight hours of mid-summer. Winters are much worse, with lows plummeting to below -95F on the mountain, and during storms the wind can gust to more than 150 mph. But in August at the base of the mountain the weather is (sometimes) absolutely perfect.